Manchester City v Portsmouth 2-0
April 30th 2005 46,454
With a European place a possibility there was a buzz and air of expectancy around the City of Manchester Stadium as City welcomed Portsmouth and a large contingent of supporters from the South coast. The City team are on a great run of form under the stewardship of Stuart Pearce and this continued today. In the first half as the ball zapped its way from sky blue shirt to sky blue shirt in a manner reminiscent of the Brazilians at times I had to remember that maybe we've perhaps not got the players with the individual flair and skill of Vava, Garrincha and Pele and co but the first half team display was as good as we've seen from City this season and with luck we could have been five up at half time. In contrast the second half was a bit of an anticlimax with City saving a bit for next Saturday against Villa. For the most part James was untroubled and kept yet another clean sheet - helped by the dominance of Dunne and Distin at the heart of the defence. It looks as though City are likely to achieve under Stu Pearce their highest position in the Premiership. He MUST now be given the managers job fulltime.
Yet another cross from the right wing and more problems for Pompey as the ball is cleared for a corner
April 2005
City were unchanged yet again with both Mills and Thatcher being on the bench.
From the first minute City went on the attack and set the pace of the action right from the start.
From the resultant corner Dunne rose above the keeper but his header bounced down towards the waiting Distin who headed it back over the prostrate Ashdown
Despite the efforts of Taylor on the line the ball looped over him to give City their first goal after just 4 minutes.
Shaun Wright-Phillips was beginning to get some of his old form back and this promising run was ended by a bad foul by O'Neill who got booked by referee Marriner.
Richard Dunne, who is quickly becoming City's star player was in action at both ends of the ground protecting keeper James at one end and giving the opposing keeper plenty to think about at the other.
After 16 minutes Wright-Phillips was brought down again and Robbie Fowler curled the resultant free-kick around the wall.....
...... to beat Ashdown at the left hand post to give City a two goal lead ... a lead they well deserved.
The rejuvenated Fowler got a rapturous reception from the City supporters.
Portsmouth coach Joe Jordan is no doubt asking the third official to get some tips from Stu Pearce on egging the players on!
A Portsmouth defender blocks another City shot.
City almost got a third when a miscued header by Stefanovic went just over the goal
More danger for the Portsmouth goal as SWP attacks.
As Matthew Taylor stole some yards at a throw-in Stu Pearce gave him some some stick from 'inches away'. Portsmouth manager Alain Perrin (who?) and Joe Jordan appeal to the third official to handcuff him to the bench!
Yes ... Its that man again Richard Dunne dominating the penalty area and not allowing the Portsmouth strikers any chances.
Has Joey Barton being taking secret lessons from Nat Lofthouse I wonder. His enthusiasm was 'rewarded' by a free-kick when he barged Ashdown into the net as the visiting goalkeeper caught the ball
Nedum Onuoha was having easily his best attacking game at right back and often used his strength and speed to good effect.
Yet another City corner putting pressure on the visitors goal
There goes Nedum again sweeping down the right leaving a trail of bodies!
Ashdown, far the busier of the two keepers, is in action again.
Kamara and O'Neill try to get a City player booked for a foul
Is that a left jab to Distin's face or just a trick of the light!
back to City 2004-2005
Portsmouth had a bit more of the play in the second half and came near to scoring after 50 minutes . Kamara broke down the left and his cross reached Rodic whose shot was saved on the line by Thatcher who had come on for the injured Jordan at the interval.
It was interesting to see a tactic I have long advocated ... keeping SWP upfield at opposing corners. It means the opposition have to keep two men back to mark and James has a target should he catch the corner kick
After 75 minutes clattered one of the opposition at the edge of the area
City's protests were in vain but the resultant shot by O'Neill was well saved by James who kept his third consecutive clean sheet and City extended their unbeaten run to 6 games. Another cracking team performance especially in the first half. Two more displays like this and the UEFA Cup beckons. Roll on Villa and Middlesbrough!

James 6: Onuoha 7, Dunne 8, Distin 8, Jordan 6, (Thatcher 6): Wright-Phillips 7, Reyna 7, Barton 7, Sibierski 6, Musampa 6: Fowler 7 (Croft 6)